What motorcycles were used during World War II?
Maverick Stryder

Introduction to World War II Motorcycles

World War II was a period of great technological advancement and innovation, particularly in the realm of military vehicles. Among these advancements were motorcycles, which played an integral role in the war effort. They were used for a variety of purposes, such as reconnaissance missions, courier services, and even direct combat. In this section, we'll explore the importance of motorcycles during this turbulent period in world history.

Harley-Davidson WLA

The Harley-Davidson WLA was one of the most iconic motorcycles used during World War II. It was a robust and reliable machine that was used extensively by the American military. The WLA was designed specifically for military use, with modifications that included a heavy-duty luggage rack for carrying equipment and a raised exhaust pipe to allow for deep-water fording. The WLA was powered by a 45 cubic inch V-twin engine, which was known for its durability and ease of maintenance.


Beyond the American borders, Germany also made significant contributions to the motorcycle industry during World War II. The BMW R75 was a heavy motorcycle designed by BMW and used by the Wehrmacht. It was equipped with a sidecar and driven by a shaft that also powered the sidecar wheel, making it an effective off-road vehicle. The R75 was used extensively on the Eastern Front due to its ability to handle the rough terrain.

Soviet M-72

Not to be outdone, the Soviet Union also developed their own motorcycles for the war effort. The M-72 was a copy of the BMW R71, which was considered one of the best military motorcycles of the time. The M-72 was powered by a boxer twin engine and featured a sidecar with a driven wheel. This design made it an effective vehicle for traversing the harsh and varied terrains of the Eastern Front.

Indian 841

The Indian 841 was another notable motorcycle that saw service during World War II. This bike was designed by the Indian Motorcycle Company in response to a request from the US military for a motorcycle better suited for desert conditions. The 841 was unique in its design, featuring a longitudinally mounted V-twin engine and shaft drive. Unfortunately, the 841 didn't see as much action as expected as it arrived towards the end of the North African Campaign.

Conclusion: The Impact of World War II on Motorcycles

The motorcycles used during World War II were not just vehicles, they were pivotal tools in the war effort. They provided mobility, speed, and versatility on the battlefield. These motorcycles set the stage for many of the models we see today, as manufacturers continued to build upon the designs and technologies developed during the war. The legacy of these machines can still be seen today in the design and functionality of modern military and civilian motorcycles.

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